Don McCorkindale was born in 1939 in London, England, the son of Don McCorkindale Sr, a boxer who represented South Africa in the 1936 Olympics, notably negotiating the inclusion of a non-white boxer in the team. Don Sr went on to be involved in films, his credits including the Gracie Fields vehicle, We're Going to be Rich (1938) in which he played 'the killer'. Later, Freddie Mills, Cruiserweight Boxing Champion of the World from 1948 to 1950, became Don's step-father.

After completing his British National Service in Germany on the Rhine, Don was chosen by Lord Bernard Miles to go to Canada with a production of Treasure Island. Don would go on to be directed by Miles' daughter, Sally, in The Wakefield Mystery Cycle at The Mermaid Theatre. His first job in London's West End was in the musical Instant Marriage (1965), during the run of which he aptly proposed to and married his wife, Kate.

Don (left) recording The Avengers with Rex Garner while June Dixon looks on.

Early film roles included appearances in two early Carry On films, making his mark in the first film in the series, Carry on Sergeant (1958) and returning for Carry on Cabby (1963). Following up these and other early successes, Don pursued his career in showbusiness by returning to work in South Africa in 1968. As well as featuring in the Sonovision radio series of The Avengers there, he also variously acted in radio, television, film and on the stage. His first production in South Africa was for the acclaimed Israeli director Albert Ninio, when he played Etienne in Feydeau's A Flea in Her Ear. This was produced by another of South Africa's leading theatrical lights, Roy Cook. Many productions later he was to star opposite Molly Seftal, the doyenne of South African theatre, in the Marowitz's Shrew, for which he received a nomination for best actor.

Among Don's radio credits is the memorable and long-running My Name Is Adam Kane, in which he played the title role, an East London 'super-agent', very much in the mould of Michael Caine's Harry Palmer. Don's performances in this series, made at Manley van Niekerk Studios, were outstanding and expertly judged. 

Don left South Africa in 1976 to go 'walkabout' with his wife Kate, and children Danny and Sara. This trek took in most of Northern Europe before the family settled for two years in Corfu.

Don McCorkindale in now a theatrical agent in London at MakDee Management. He continues to "keep his hand in" with various film, television and radio engagements. Among these have been appearances in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1984) and The Bill (1999). He also enjoyed a stint as a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company in 1994 and 1995.

After leaving the BBC RDC, Don set up his own theatrical agency which he ran for about three years. Yearning to be back in the business as an actor, he found himself a new agent, who has in Don's words, "been superb". His recent TV appearances have been in Grange Hill, Bad Girls, Heartbeat, Eastenders and Doctors. He was also seen as General Eisenhower in BBC1's production of D-Day to Berlin transmitted in May 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of V-E Day.

Don has also figured in the films Layer Cake (2004), Call of the Hunter (2009), The Silver Goat (2011) and Jack the Giant Slayer (2013). He remains in demand for voice work well into his seventies.

by Don McCorkindale with Alan Hayes

 

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